Editor's note: On the afternoon of December 8, several hours after the publication of this post, First Gentleman Marlon Reis was released from the hospital and headed home. In a statement, he said, "I am so thankful to the doctors, nurses, and staff and for the support and well wishes we have received from friends, neighbors, and Coloradans during this time. I hold everyone who has been affected by this deadly virus in my heart. Jared and I continue to encourage our fellow Coloradans to remain vigilant, wear masks, stay six feet apart, avoid gatherings, and wash your hands regularly." Continue for our previous coverage.
Colorado First Gentleman Marlon Reis, partner of Governor Jared Polis, remains hospitalized with COVID-19. But according to Polis's office, he seems to be reacting well to a medical regimen that includes some of the drugs that helped President Donald Trump rapidly recover from a case of the novel coronavirus in early October, when they weren't as widely available.
Like Trump, Reis has received doses of dexamethasone, a steroid, and the anti-viral drug remdesivir, both of which have been shown to help COVID-19 patients and are becoming more common weapons in the fight against the disease.
Polis drove Reis to a Denver-area hospital on the evening of December 6, eight days after the two were diagnosed with COVID-19, when Reis displayed a slightly worsening cough and shortness of breath. Around 24 hours later, according to Polis's office, Reis had "normal oxygen saturation. ... He has not required oxygen."
Meanwhile, Polis "is not experiencing any symptoms at this time and will return to public as soon as doctors clear him to be around others," his office said.
During an October 2 press conference shortly after Trump was diagnosed with COVID-19, Polis wished the president well; days later, Trump was already claiming victory over the virus. But at his next press conference on October 6, Polis said he didn't want Trump's statements to suggest that the disease was no big deal. "We don't all have the ability to have the same quality of care the president has when he gets ill," he pointed out.
In addition to dexamethasone and remdesivir, Trump had received a so-called "antibody cocktail" from Regeneron Pharmaceuticals that was still undergoing clinical trials in Colorado and elsewhere; the Food and Drug Administration didn't grant Regeneron an emergency-use authorization until late November.
At the time Trump was treated, a University of Colorado Health report stressed that while Regeneron treatments remained rare for members of the general public, "dexamethasone and remdesivir have become go-to treatments for some seriously ill patients."
In that report, Dr. Josh Douin, a CU School of Medicine anesthesiologist and critical-care medicine specialist, touted dexamethasone, which the World Health Organization describes as a "corticosteroid used in a wide range of conditions for its anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressant effects," as "the biggest breakthrough" up to that time in the treatment of COVID-19. The medication "showed a pretty significant improvement for survival for folks who require ventilation. Everyone who’s admitted and requires intubation is getting dexamethasone."
As for remdesivir, also known as Veklury, the FDA officially approved it on October 22 "for use in adult and pediatric patients twelve years of age and older and weighing at least 40 kilograms (about 88 pounds) for the treatment of COVID-19 requiring hospitalization." An emergency-use authorization had been granted in May.
The remdesivir approval was "supported by data from multiple clinical trials that the agency has rigorously assessed and represents an important scientific milestone in the COVID-19 pandemic," FDA commissioner Stephen Hahn said in a statement at the time. "As part of the FDA’s Coronavirus Treatment Acceleration Program, the agency will continue to help move new medical products to patients as soon as possible, while at the same time determining whether they are effective and if their benefits outweigh their risks."
That appears to be the case for Reis, who is "in good spirits, and looks forward to returning home soon," according to the governor's office.
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.